Parents often ask us if we have any tips for preventing choking. Although we are always happy to provide advice about household hazards, the truth is that, by far, the most common cause of choking is food.
Young children are at a higher choking risk than adults because they have smaller windpipes, and they are still developing their chewing and swallowing skills. Elderly people and those with certain health conditions that make swallowing difficult are also at a higher risk, especially when it comes to certain foods.
Kids tend to love these easy-to-cook items, but this popularity makes hot dogs and other sausages some of the most choked-on food around. Be sure to cut them into small, irregular shapes before serving. Some experts recommend cutting hot dogs length-wise to start.
Flat-shaped lollipops and other candies are better than spherical candy like gumballs, which can easily stick in a child’s throat. Most experts agree chewing gum is not appropriate for kids under the age of 5.
Whole nuts might seem like a good food choice for little ones, but they are one of the top choking hazards. recommend not serving peanuts and other nuts to children until they are at least 4 or 5 years old.
Fresh, raw produce is a tasty, healthful snack. Just remember to always cut it into small pieces — smaller than you might expect. Even grapes should be cut in halves or quarters. This makes them easier to chew and less likely to get stuck if swallowed before fully chewed.
The size and shape of this popular snack make it tough for kids to swallow.
Always spread peanut butter thinly on a cracker or toast, rather than serving a large dollop. The texture can be too thick for a child to swallow.
Surprisingly, soft foods can also pose a high risk. Marshmallows are one of the most common hazards, as kids can have trouble chewing them fully.
Most of these food risks apply to young children. It’s also important to keep in mind that any food — and even water — can be a risk for people with swallowing disorders, such as after a stroke. These patients and their caregivers should check with their doctors about which foods pose higher risks.
Being aware of these risks is important, but emergencies can still happen. That’s why our other top advice is to educate yourself about choking first aid. The Dechoker is an innovative, easy-to-use device that comes in sizes for toddlers, children and adults. We believe every parent or caregiver of a person at risk of choking should have access to this lifesaving device, in addition to knowing traditional anti-choking treatments such as abdominal thrusts.
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